Written By: Adshake Kunanithy
Adrenaline starts pumping through their veins. They enter with flaming torches and waving flags. Every second and every breath matters from the shot of the starter’s gun to the end of the finishing line. Multiple sports take place with an overwhelming group of athletes competing across the world to make a name for themselves. To go back home with a gold medal. Although they join their home country with pride and joy, no one talks about the aftermath of the glorified event for the host country and its citizens.
Final Votes From the Judging Panel
The Olympics first began in ancient Greece with only one event: the 192-meter footrace back in 776 B.C. From that moment, it evolved to encompass a variety of athletes, participating countries and the separation of Summer and Winter Games (5). Beijing, for example, recently hosted the 2022 Winter Olympics and had over 91 countries and 2,874 athletes participating in over 109 events (1). The Summer Olympics are said to host even more athletes and events, making it a spectacular event. What makes this event more interesting is the curiosity behind the next host country, and the design of their stadiums and ceremonies.
How the host country is chosen is dependent on a voting system. The Olympics are run by the International Olympics Committee (IOC) with one representative from each country. Seven years before the actual event, cities worldwide would volunteer to host the Games and make million-dollar bids to the IOC. Cities would then have to go through an audit procedure to ensure that they would be able to provide accommodation for tourists and journalists while having a strong infrastructure to support the game schedule. From this point, the 105 IOC members would vote on a country that they see the best fit to host the next Olympics (2).
Many countries are eager to cast a bid in the election to boost their economy. With heavy investments both domestic and international, countries would be able to improve their infrastructures like roads and airports and create more job opportunities in the tourism industry. It is noted that with the Olympics, tourism tends to increase before and after the event which boosts revenue for the country (9). However, the benefits to reap from the Olympics are not as great as one would think.
Rising Sensation vs Rising Debt
Economic growth from the Olympics is often short-lived and ironically, holds a country back with the amount of debt it brings. According to the International Olympics Committee, from 2013 to 2016, only USD$5.7 billion dollars was generated in revenue from two games, Sochi 2014 and Rio 2016. The majority of this amount is driven by broadening and marketing rights. The revenue is further split with 90% given back to sports and athlete development and the remaining to host cities. The large disparity can further be decreased with the donations IOC makes to each country. For instance, they donated USD$1.53B to support RIO 2016 but that amount barely covers any of the costs a country has to experience (7).
Just to participate in the bid alone, countries and cities would need around $50M to $100M to organize the events, plan logistics including traveling and hire an abundance of employees. From here, costs begin to add up with infrastructure costing from $5B to $50B, security costs from $1B to $2B, stadium construction in the millions and high operational fees. For the 2008 Summer Olympics alone, Beijing spent over $460M to build the “Bird’s Nest” stadium and $10M yearly for maintenance. With costs being unpredictable, cities would underestimate the number of funds that are needed and exceed high limits, leaving them with no choice but to take on debt. Montreal and Sochi spent billions of dollars each year paying off debt from games that happened in 1976 or 2004 using their taxpayers’ money. Taxpayer money that could have been used to benefit the citizens that live in their city (8).
Drowning In A Swimming Pool Filled With Hope
It was decided that in 2016, Rio de Janeiro would host the Summer Olympics Game.
What started as a hope for the city’s “economy, environment and reputation” became the opposite for Rio citizens once many areas of concern start to rise. For one, the mayor decided to demolish communities to build aesthetic buildings and stadiums, leaving many residents homeless or forced to live in other areas. Despite that, many stadiums, hotels and supposed community pools were left unused and filthy, serving high electricity bills. The promise of improving poorer neighborhoods was diminished as well once the Games were done. One of the main reasons for this was the corruption of politicians and government in place. Public funds that were supposed to be dedicated to the Game and the community were instead used to fulfill their selfish needs (3).
Although this is one example, many cities follow a similar route: demolishing communities, a sudden boost in the economy and a lifetime debt sentence. When you weigh the benefits and the costs of hosting the Games, you can see that the costs place a higher burden and prove that the Olympics are not the best way to build one’s economy especially when it is temporary. It produces the ideology that economic growth is the way for a country to grow. However, one should not forget economic development. In cases like Rio or other cities, they should focus on allocating funds to where the citizens may need support: housing, job opportunities and building a safer environment. By taking care of one’s society and giving them resources to perform better, countries would be able to generate large output without the reliance on any debt.
The Reality of The Olympic Games
To many, the Olympics Games would forever be a memorable event, especially to the athletes that participate. It introduces new cultures, new talents and provides a platform for the world. However, organizations and governments should consider the aftermath when planning these events. New transportation should be adjusted to suit local communities, stadiums should be dedicated to the public for use, and old athlete housing should be converted to hotels or residential homes. By making these adjustments, there may be potential for economic development and most importantly, would always consider the citizens who live with the aftermath.
1.Bonesteel, M. (2022, February 4). How many athletes participate in the Winter Olympics, and other key numbers from the games. The Washington Post. Retrieved March 20, 2022, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2022/02/04/olympics-athletes-by-the-numbers/
2.Chepkemoi, J. (2018, May 2). How is an olympic host city chosen? WorldAtlas. Retrieved March 20, 2022, from https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/how-is-an-olympic-host-city-chosen.html
3.Drehs, W., & Lajolo, M. (2017, August 10). One year after Rio: What’s left behind after the flame goes out. ESPN. Retrieved March 20, 2022, from https://www.espn.com/espn/feature/story/_/id/20292414/the-reality-post-olympic-rio https://olympics.com/ioc/funding#:~:text=In%20total%2C%20through%20the%20sale,2016%2C%20was%20USD%205.7%20billion.
4.Forbes (2016). The Massive Cost of Hosting The Olympic Games [Infographic]. https://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2016/08/04/the-massive-cost-of-hosting-the-olympic-games-infographic/?sh=646246c62e38
5.History.com Editors. (2010, January 6). The Olympic Games. History.com. Retrieved March 20, 2022, from https://www.history.com/topics/sports/olympic-games
6.Hitij, M. (2021).A set of Olympic rings in an abandoned former swim hall at the site of the 1936 Berlin Olympic Village on May 17, 2021, in Elstal, Germany [Photography]. Getty Images. https://www.insider.com/abandoned-olympic-venues-current-day-pictures-2016-5#in-berlin-germany-there-are-still-remnants-of-the-1936-games-almost-90-years-later-1
7.International Olympic Committee. (2022, January 3). How the IOC finances a better world through sport. International Olympic Committee. Retrieved March 20, 2022, from https://olympics.com/ioc/funding#:~:text=In%20total%2C%20through%20the%20sale,2016%2C%20was%20USD%205.7%20billion.
8.McBride, J., & Manno, M. (2014, December 14). The economics of hosting the Olympic Games. Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved March 20, 2022, from https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/economics-hosting-olympic-games
9.Wills, J. (2022, February 8). The economic impact of hosting the Olympics. Investopedia. Retrieved March 20, 2022, from https://www.investopedia.com/articles/markets-economy/092416/what-economic-impact-hosting-olympics.asp#:~:text=Many%20countries%20and%20the%20cities,can%20be%20an%20economic%20boon